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Spring 2022


Course Title Instructor Day/Time
ENVR_POL 101-6 First-Year Seminar: Chicago Environmental Justice Melissa Rosenzweig TTh 2pm-3:20pm
ENVR_POL 211-0 Food and Society: An Introduction Miri Eliyahu MW 11am-12:20pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-20 Environmental Anthropology Melissa Rosenzweig TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-21 Introduction to Ethnobiology: Theories of Human-Plant-Animal Interactions Eli Suzukovich III M 2pm-4:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-22  Climate Change Law and Policy Wil Burns MW 9:30am-10:50am
ENVR_POL 390-0-23 International Wildlife Law and Policy Wil Burns MW 12:30pm-1:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-24 Media, Earth, and Making a Difference Sarah Taylor Th 2pm-4:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-25 Water in Arid Lands: Israel and the Middle East Elie Rekhess and Aaron Packman W 4pm-6:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-26 Environmental Justice in Black & Indigenous Women’s Literature Sara Cerne TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-27 “The Chicago Way”: Urban Spaces and American Literature Bill Savage TTh 2pm-3:20pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-28 Animal, Animism, Animality Evan Mwangi MW 12:30pm-1:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-30 The Natural and Supernatural in Southeast Asia Haydon Cherry T 6pm-8:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-31 Energy in American History Keith Woodhouse TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm
ENVR_POL 390-0-32

The End of the World: South Korean Fictions, Films and Webtoons of Disaster

Jeong Eun We TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm



ENVR_POL 101: First-Year Seminar: Chicago Environmental Justice

The concept of environmental justice in the United States emerged in the early 1980s as African-American residents fought hazardous waste sites planned in and around their communities. Since then, the environmental justice perspective has been expanded to include the struggles of other minority groups disenfranchised on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or class. In the first part of the course, students will learn about the history of the environmental justice movement in the US and its development. Next, the course will take a closer look at environmental justice in Chicago, both past and present. A mandatory field trip to a local environmental justice organization is part of the course.

ENVR_POL 211-0-20: Food and Society: An Introduction 

What makes food social? What is sociological about eating? How does society shape our relationship with food? These are questions at the center of this course. During the span of this quarter, we will learn about the role of food in society, how social norms as well as culture impact our view of food and review the following topic within food and society: Food inequality, food and sustainability, food and gender and lastly, food culture in the US. We will do so by employing a sociological perspective to food that will help is critically engage with something we do every day - preparing and eating food. This is an introductory level class and does not require prior knowledge in sociology or in knowledge production. By the end of the quarter students will view food as a social and community construct that impacts our lives, well-being, and society.

ENVR_POL 390-0-20: Environmental Anthropology

Environmental anthropology is a more recent outgrowth of ecological anthropology, which emerged in the 1960s and 70s as an empirically-based focus on systemic human-environment relationships, especially as they pertain to patterns of social change and adaptation.  Environmental anthropology became more prominent in the 1980s, and is typically characterized by research on communities' engagements with contemporary environmental issues.  Environmental anthropology has greater commitments to advocacy, critique, and application than ecological anthropology, but as we'll see in this course, the proliferation of "new ecologies" (as opposed to "new environmentalisms") denotes the continued synergy between ecological and environmental anthropologies.

ENVR_POL 390-0-21: Introduction to Ethnobiology: Theories of Human-Plant-Animal Interactions

This class is an introduction to the growing field of Ethnobiology which is the scientific study of dynamic relationships among peoples, biota, and environments. As a multidisciplinary field, ethnobiology integrates anthropology, geography, systematics, population biology, ecology, mathematical biology, pharmacology, conservation, and sustainable development. This class will cover the origins and evolution of ethnobiology theory and practice ranging from folk science, polymaths, taxonomic and colonial practices, the rise of Indigenous science methods, and the contemporary focus on creating networks among researchers of various disciplines to face the challenges of rapid ecological change and shifting political economies.

ENVR_POL 390-0-22:  Climate Change Law and Policy

This course examines the potential role of the law in confronting climate change from an institutional and policy perspective, examining the role of treaties, national legislation (in the United States), sub-national responses and judicial and quasi-judicial fora. Among the topics that will be addressed include the science associated with climate change, the role of key international climate treaty regimes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, national and state and local responses to climate change in the United States, the role of litigation in confronting major emitters, and the potential role of climate geoengineering approaches. It will also seek to help students develop critical skills of analysis of treaty provisions, legislative language, and court decisions, public speaking and cogent writing.

ENVR_POL 390-0-23:  International Wildlife Law and Policy

Many scientists and policymakers believe that we are on the cusp of the world’s sixth great extinction spasm, driven almost entirely by anthropogenic factors, including habitat destruction, unsustainable trade, the introduction of invasive species, and the looming specter of climate change. This course explores the role of international law in addressing the biodiversity crisis and efforts to protect wildlife species. An ancillary objective is to provide students with a foundation in international law, including skills in analyzing treaty provisions.

ENVR_POL 390-0-24: Media, Earth, and Making a Difference

The central question of this course is: What Makes a Difference? Analyzing a variety of works of media addressing environmental themes, including works drawn from advertising and marketing, we will consider different types of environmental messaging and attempts to mobilize public moral engagement. Specifically, we will be looking at strategies for implementing media interventions as moral interventions. Discussion taken up in this class will include evaluating the comparative value of media messaging that emphasizes individual action and personal responsibility, versus messaging that promotes collective action, policy, and structural changes. Students will consider and debate what constitutes authentic “green” messaging versus mere corporate “greenwashing.” Throughout, we will ask what kind of media we need in what has been called the “Anthropocene” (a time when humans are now a major geologic force affecting the future of the planet). When motivating public moral engagement in climate crisis, are the solutions being offered those that the planet will actually “register” or “notice” on a global scale? If not, what kinds of “media interventions” do we need to be making and how? Course content will include discussion of media interventions as moral interventions, media activism for social change, eco-media responses by religious communities and organizations, participatory digital culture, and the challenges of addressing environmental crisis in the distraction economy and what has been called the “post-truth era.” Students will have the opportunity to learn by doing, proposing and crafting their own environmental media interventions as the course’s final project. This course is about taking action and making a true difference. 

ENVR_POL 390-0-25: Water in Arid Lands: Israel and the Middle East

This seminar will explore how the availability of water has shaped the development of civilizations and driven innovation in water technologies. The course will investigate historical dimensions of water in Israel and the Middle East, focusing on ancient civilizations and the water infrastructures that are essential tools in aiding the development of water-poor societies. We will use this historical context as a stepping-stone to transition into a more recent history of the Middle East, focusing on the challenges that the nascent state of Israel faced following the influx of millions of immigrants. We will then examine efforts to develop the necessary water resources needed to support the burgeoning population as well as the irrigation projects designed to convert barren desert land into cultivated agriculture. This more recent history will help to set the stage for discussions regarding geopolitical conflicts over land and water that continue to this day. We will evaluate regional climate and water in the context of current and future geopolitical conflicts, reviewing recent advances in water technologies spurred by these limitations as well as the potential development of combined social and technological solutions for long-term water sustainability in Israel and the Middle East. We will end the course with discussions regarding opportunities for global translation of innovative water technologies and water-management solutions developed in Israel to other water-poor regions. In addition, the course will host a one-day conference featuring international experts. It will explore how water access and control contributes to trans-boundary politics and how recent advances in Israeli water technologies may serve as a model for sustainable water development in other water-poor regions of the world.

ENVR_POL 390-0-26: Environmental Justice in Black & Indigenous Women’s Literature

While ecocriticism has not always considered the lived experience of women of color, literary texts by African American and Native American women have found ways of theorizing their own versions of environmental and spatial justice. Reading leading theorists like Rob Nixon and Edward Soja side by side with Jesmyn Ward’s post-Katrina novel Salvage the Bones (2011), Toni Jensen’s stories about oil and fracking on Indigenous lands, and poetry by Nikky Finney and Heid E. Erdrich, this class interrogates how literature can inform our understanding of environmental injustice and different types of violence. It grounds the discussion in a longer history of colonial extraction and Indigenous dispossession, racism, structural neglect, and ongoing residential segregation by discussing Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 hurricane novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and looking at Zitkala-Ša’s influential 1924 report on the settler defrauding of Osage Indians for their oil-rich lands.

ENVR_POL 390-0-27: “The Chicago Way”: Urban Spaces and American Literature

Urbanologist Yi Fu Tuan writes, "What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place when we get to know it better and endow it with values." In The Untouchables, Sean Connery tells Kevin Costner, "You want to get Capone? Here's how you get Capone. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue. That's the Chicago way." In this class, we will examine "the Chicago way" from many different angles in order to interrogate the values with which various artists have endowed Chicago. We will read in a broad range of media: journalism, poetry, song, fiction, film, and sequential art to see how a sense of Chicago as a place works over time. We will pay close attention to depictions of the construction of American identity, and to the role of the artist and intellectual in the city.

ENVR_POL 390-0-28: Animal, Animism, Animality

This course focuses on the representations of animals, animism, and animality in select African texts to examine the major developments in African literatures. While discussing various theoretical statements, we will assess the place of the non-human in the African thought. We will discuss work by well-known authors (e.g., Wole Soyinka, Bessie Head, J.M. Coetzee, Abulrazak Gurnah, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o), fiction and poetry by important but neglected authors (e.g., Saida Hagi-Dirie Herzi and Henry ole Kulet), and works by emergent writers who deploy animality as a trope to explore the relationship between the human and the non-human. Subtopics will include ecology, biopolitics, slavery, race, diaspora, intra-African immigration, science fiction, queerness, and ubuntu. Theoretical texts include works by Wangari Maathai, Achille Mbembe, Rosi Braidotti, Harry Garuba, Kyle White, Frantz Fanon, and Cajetan Iheka.

ENVR_POL 390-0-30:  The Natural and Supernatural in Southeast Asia

This course examines the ways in which different Southeast Asian peoples have conceived of what we might think of as the natural world - the environment; and the supernatural world - various religious traditions and cosmologies; and the continuous interplay between the two. Together we will explore the Kahiringan tradition of the Ngaju Dayak people from Central Kalimantan in Indonesia; representations of nature in the textual traditions and temple paintings of the Vessantera jataka in Myanmar and Thailand; Ilongot headhunting and historical reckoning; and the hydraulic landscape of Bali's water temples. Our goal will be to understand the kinds of conceptual and practical resources Southeast Asians have brought to understanding and controlling the world in which they have lived.

ENVR_POL 390-0-31:  Energy in American History

Energy is both ubiquitous and invisible: ubiquitous because little that modern Americans do every day does not involve some use of energy, and invisible because this constant flow of energy allows people to take it for granted. This class will look at different energy systems in American history, focusing on their social, cultural, political, and environmental consequences. Although the course will begin well before the fossil fuel era it will focus primarily on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—the age of coal and oil.

ENVR_POL 390-0-32:  The End of the World: South Korean Fictions, Films and Webtoons of Disaster

What does one talk about when one talks about disasters? Whose world ends in “end of the world” narratives? This course invites students to read and watch South Korean and diasporic narratives centered around disasters, both real and fictional, to engage questions of politics, representation, and inequalities that shape disaster narratives. Ranging from disasters of the past to more contemporary ones such as pandemics and Sewol ferry, the disasters examined in this course have sparked complex conversations surrounding a more just society and the doomed end of the “normal.” Engaging scholarship on disasters, speculative fictions, critical race theory, and gender studies, the course introduces students to the varied academic and cultural responses to disasters and the underlying stakes that drive these responses. Students will be assigned a variety of texts to analyze, such as film, novels, webtoons, and news, as well as choosing a disaster narrative of their own interest to examine. No prior knowledge of Korean culture or language are required to take this course. Students are expected to actively participate in class and work in groups on collaborative projects. Assignments will consist of short essays and a creative final project.